On 6 March 1946, David Jon Gilmour was born in Cambridge England. He was the second child of Douglas and Sylvia Gilmour. His father was a lecturer in Zoology at the University, and his mom was a teacher. Both of his parents were involved with education, which might explain why David also attended school until (or a bit before) he was 20 years old. He first went to “The Perse School” on Hills road in Cambridge, where he met Syd Barrett and Roger Waters. Those three would later form the basis for Pink Floyd, the band that made Gilmour famous. Gilmour later, together with Syd, studied modern languages up to an A-level and got himself into a band called Joker’s Wild in 1962. A few years after that, he left Joker’s Wild and started travelling and performing on the streets of Spain and France with some friends. Unfortunately they didn’t have a big success, and had hard time finding food. Gilmour has once stated that he even ended up in hospital to be treated for malnutrition. In ’67 he returned to the UK, using a van with stolen fuel.
Life outside the music
After his return to England, he married Virginia “Ginger” Hasenbein. Together they had four children, born between ’76 and ’86. His kids attended Waldorf School, but Gilmour stated that their education was very bad. In 1994 he remarried, this time with Polly Samson, and they also have four kids. Gilmour adopted Samson’s son, and together with Samson he has three other children. The family now lives in Shiplake, outside Henley-on-Thames.
Apart from his music, he’s also an experienced pilot, and interested in avionics. He even had his own company, Intrepid Aviation, to gather historical aircrafts. This company started as a hobby, just to collect beautiful planes, but it got very commercial. Gilmour stated in and interview with BBC that the company was meant as a hobby that could bring up a little money to pay the expenses, but after a while he found that instead of it being a hobby, it became business. For that reason the sold the company.
After the hitch hiking adventure, Syd joined Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright from Pink Floyd. Gilmour rejoined his old band Joker’s Wild and started touring through Europe. Nick Mason, drummer of Pink Floyd, asked Gilmour whether or not he’d like to join Pink Floyd. Gilmour agreed, and five gigs after joining Pink Floyd, the reason for adding Gilmour into their band became clear, Syd Barrett left. Since there was an empty spot, Gilmour automatically filled in as lead guitarist and partial lead singer. After the big successes with “The Dark Side of the Moon” and “Wish You Were Here” Roger Waters (bassist) started taking the control, writing most of the next two albums himself. During their sessions for “The Wall”, Richard Wright (keys) was fired, which left Mason, Gilmour and Waters.
David Gilmour started recording his first solo album, because he thought his musicality was underused in the band. In 1978 his first album “David Gilmour” was released, where he used his signature guitar for the first time, and showed some nice song writing skills. During the last stages of finishing his album, Gilmour wrote “Comfortably Numb”, but it was to late to put it on his solo album, so it was released on Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”.
Six years later (1984), Gilmour released his second album “About Face”. He and Roger Waters became worse and worse friends and they both started touring with their album, which could be interpreted as a match. They both had weak ticket sales for their tours. A year later Roger Waters declared that Pink Floyd was “a spent force creatively” and another year later, Gilmour and Mason told the press that Waters had quit the band and that they wanted to continue without him. Gilmour took the lead in the group and he and Mason, assisted by Richard Wright (ex-Pink Floyd at that moment) released “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” in 1987. After the release of the album Wright officially rejoined the band and also co-created their 13th album “Delicate Sound of thunder”, released in ’88. Two years before, Gilmour bought a houseboat called Astoria (moored on the River Thames) and rebuild it as a recording studio. They used Astoria to record most of the two most recent album’s songs and his solo album On an Island.
Quite some years later, in 2005, Gilmour played live with Pink Floyd at Live 8. The performance gave their last album’s sales a major boost: sales increased with 1343%! Gilmour donated the money to charities that were under Live 8’s wing. One year later Gilmour stated that Pink Floyd probably wouldn’t be performing or writing songs anymore. For all his work with Pink Floyd, charities and lots of side projects, he was awarded for outstanding contribution for music by the Q Awards and received an honorary doctorate from the Anglia Ruskin University.
Just as many of the greats, Gilmour used lots of different guitars. Telecasters, Esquires, Lap Steel guitars, Les Pauls, Ovations, but just like all those other greats, he had one favourite. David Gilmour's signature stratocaster has always been recognisable by the black paint, black pick guard and white-coloured knobs and switches. It has a vintage ’57 C-shape maple neck and an extra toggle switch to combine the bridge and neck pick-ups. In November 2006, Fender Custom Shop announced they’d be making two exact copies of Gilmour’s black Stratocaster. They would even contain the wear that was on David’s guitar. The most expensive would be the David Gilmour Relic Stratocaster, which would feature all of the wear and tear that’s on the original.
These days Gilmour often uses a Hiwatt amplifier (100 watt) in combination with a WEM Super Starfinder 4x12 cab with Fane Crescendo speakers. He found this combination after using several different amps and has stuck with it for many years now.